Does Delaware have a law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet?

Question

Does Delaware have a law that requires motorcycle riders to wear a helmet?

Answer

Yes, but while other states have passed "universal" helmet laws, which cover anyone riding on a motorcycle regardless of their age, Delaware's law is much narrower. Only motorcycle riders and passengers who are under the age of 19 are required to wear a helmet in Delaware, although the state adds a bit of a twist to their law by requiring all motorcycle operators to ride with an approved helmet stored on the bike at all times.

The full text of Delaware's motorcycle helmet law (which you'll find at Delaware Code section 4185) says:

"Every person operating or riding on a motorcycle shall have in that person's possession [an approved] safety helmet and shall wear [approved] eye protection; provided, however, that every person up to 19 years of age operating or riding on a motorcycle shall wear [an approved] safety helmet and [approved] eye protection."

For the details on proper helmets, check out Delaware Administrative Code section 1206 - Approved Motorcycle Helmets and Eye Protection (from the Delaware Office of Highway Safety).

So, that's what the law in Delaware has to say about motorcycle helmet use. But what if you get into a motorcycle accident and you weren't wearing a helmet? Even if the crash was the obvious fault of the other driver, any lawsuit you file could be adversely affected. That's because Delaware follows a "comparative fault" rule in personal injury cases where the injured person is deemed to share some amount of blame for their own injuries.

If this rule applies in your case -- in other words, if the jury finds that your failure to wear a helmet amounted to negligence -- any compensation you receive will be reduced by a percentage that is equal to your portion of fault. To learn more about these shared fault rules, check out our Delaware Car Accident Laws article.

by: David Goguen, J.D.

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